By Sue Star

DM Kreg Publishing, January 2012 ($14.99)

ISBN-13: 9780615570723

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

Promoted as, "First in a 'black belt mystery' series," I was eagerly anticipating reading this book. After all, I have 20+ years of martial arts training and I owned a dojo. I tried reading the book numerous times — at least 6 times — but I always set the book aside. I didn't like the main character, Nell Letterly. I positively hated her teenage daughter, Terra. Didn't like her students. I did like her dad, though.

The premise of the book sounded good. A female martial artist is hired as a karate instructor. The guy she is replacing is discovered dead — apparently killed by her rather distinctive martial arts weapons. The police naturally suspect her. Then the guy she claims hired her can't be located. So far so good. The idea is intriguing enough, I'll admit. I wanted to read the book. But when the author threw in the tempermental teen-age daughter, their house facing foreclosure, the missing husband, and the non-interesting karate students it was more than I thought I could plow through. But plow through it I did and I finally finished it. Reluctantly.

It's not easy to write martial arts fiction that appeals to both martial artists and non-martial artists. I applaud the author in her attempt, even though I found it lacking.

I'm not saying that no one is going to enjoy reading this book, I'm just not sure who would read it and like it. I think the author has a promising idea but that future books in this series need something more; a more intricate plot perhaps. More interesting characters would certainly help. Better written action scenes would help too.

In the author bio at the back of the book, it indicates the next book in the series will be titled THE DOJO STALKER. I am certain I will pick up a copy to read because I am expecting the author's writing and story-telling to improve.

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